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Durham University

Careers & Enterprise Centre


Covid-19 and Work Experience/Internships:

Students are advised to check whether organisations are able to accept work experience/internship applications during the Covid-19 pandemic, before submitting an application.

A number of organisations have developed or increased their offer of virtual/remote work experience and internships in response to the pandemic. For specific resources please visit Virtual & Remote Internships & Work Experience

Internships are short, structured, paid periods of work with an organisation for a fixed time, usually during a vacation.

Internships are traditionally aimed at penultimate year students, there are an increasing number of internship opportunities targetting first and final year students, and graduates too. Typically, the employer identifies a project similar to the type of work you would carry out if you joined as a graduate. Make sure that you check for early closing dates, which may be anytime from Michaelmas term onwards.

Internships are available in a broad range of sectors and offer the student a structured experience often with graduate levels of responsibility. As well as sectors such as law, banking and finance, professional services, pharmaceuticals, engineering and IT that are traditionally known to offer internships, there are also some opportunities available in both the public and not for profit sectors; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Cancer Research are examples of organisations with established internship schemes.

Competition for internships is intense and so it is important to dedicate time and effort to your application. There are often as many, if not more, applicants for an internship as for a graduate role. Students are advised to keep this in mind and put as much effort into the application, for example researching the organisation and perfecting your CV, as you would for your ideal graduate role.

Appointments are available with the Work Experience Development Manager to support students applying for work experience opportunities. Book a 'Work Experience Applications' appointment via the Student Services Portal.

Top Tip: If your formal application is unsuccessful, don't give up - check whether the organisation offers a shorter placement opportunity, such as an Insight Day or Easter vacation scheme.

Where to find internships

Internships are usually structured and so take place during vacation time, usually summer but sometimes at Easter or Christmas. Organisations nearly always advertise their opportunities on their websites; however it might be worth making a speculative application, particularly to a smaller company. Opportunities are also advertised on our Student Services Portal.

Explore: Work Experience

Careers & Enterprise organise a programme of bespoke work experience opportunities, specifically designed and tailored for Durham University students (some may also be open to recent graduates).

The Explore programmes are a great way to gain valuable and highly sought after work experience. There are a variety of part-time term-time and vacation opportunities, with high quality employers; designed to offer you an important insight into your career area, whilst helping to develop your employability skills.

For more information contact the Work Experience Development Manager.

The following Explore: Work Experience programmes are planned for the 2018-2019 academic year:

Explore: Arts & Heritage - a programme designed to offer high quality work experience opportunities to students interested in pursuing a career in the arts; within museums, media, galleries and conservation trusts

Explore: Public Sector - a programme designed to offer high quality work experience opportunities to students interested in pursuing a career in the public sector

Explore: Third Sector - a programme designed for students keen to discover what it is like to work, or to further their experience of working within charities and voluntary organisations.

Explore: SME - a programme designed for students wishing to gain a hands on, meaningful and real life experience of work by gaining work experience in a small to medium organisation. As a partner university of the Santander Universities SME Internship programme, Careers & Enterprise at Durham University create bespoke internships, based in small to medium organisations. These fully funded internships are an excellent way to develop highly sought after skills and experience.

DICE Internships (Durham Internships & Collaborative Internships)

Careers & Enterprise are working with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in County Durham to establish ERDF sponsored 3 and 12 month paid internships available for all students, across all years. The internships are aimed at supporting the SME to develop new products or services and will provide a developmental work experience opportunity for students and graduates. All opportunities are advertised on the student services portal (, if you have a particular interest in these opportunities please contact

Social Enterprise Live Placements (SELP)

Careers & Enterprise run the highly successful Social Enterprise Live Project (SELP), a bespoke programme designed to offer Durham University students, from any discipline and background, the opportunity to experience many skills, including project management, within a social enterprise. With the support of a Santander Universities Scholarly Award students have the opportunity to undertake a paid work experience placement in one of a number of selected thriving and socially aware organisations.

This project is open to any student and should offer the opportunity to develop:

  • Project management skills
  • An insight into social enterprise
  • Employability skills

For further information click here

Opportunities for First Years

Although structured opportunities for first year students are limited it is important to think about work experience early. The good news is that an increasing number of employers are targeting first year students as part of their graduate recruitment strategy. The opportunities that are available to students are typically much shorter than the summer internships and provide an opportunity to gain an insight into a particular employer and sector. The finance and legal sectors account for the majority of structured first year work experience opportunities but other sectors are beginning to provide similar opportunities. There are different types of opportunities available to first year students but typically they all require a formal application at an early stage during your first year of study. Further information can be found in the resources on our Work Experience webpages.